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Sutton full of hot air on Kyoto

Gavan Herlihy National Agriculture Spokesperson

7 June 2002

Sutton full of hot air on Kyoto

"Claims by Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton that farmers have been exempted from paying for his Government's decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol are nothing but hot air," says National's Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy.

Mr Herlihy told today's South Island High Country Committee annual conference, in Queenstown, that the spin Jim Sutton was trying to put on his government's Kyoto policy announcement was just not credible.

"Sure there are no immediate plans to tax animal emissions, but farmers are going to be forced to fund research into reducing livestock methane gas production. This compulsory research levy is nothing more than a Kyoto tax by stealth.

"Meanwhile, Labour's proposed carbon tax will increase production costs at meat and dairy plants which - by their very nature - are energy-intensive industries. These cost increases will inevitably impact on farmers through reduced returns."

Mr Herlihy said farmers would also be hit with hikes in transportation costs - both on and off farm - from the resulting rise in petrol and diesel prices because of the carbon tax.

"It's pure spin for Jim Sutton to claim the agricultural sector has escaped paying the costs of the Government's decision to ratify Kyoto ahead of our main trading partners."

Mr Herlihy said the decision by Australia - our main competitor in the international marketplace for beef, lamb, wool and dairy products - to opt out of Kyoto would impact on the competitiveness of New Zealand agricultural products.

"Australian farmers will not be faced with the relevant increases in their cost of production that their Kiwi counterparts will because of this country's Kyoto commitments.

"It's clear the gung ho approach to Kyoto by Labour has little to do with delivering environmental outcomes and more to do with putting its political interests ahead of New Zealand's all-important primary sector," Mr Herlihy concluded.

Ends

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